Microsoft plunges self-sufficient data center into sea off Scotland

The second stage of green tech-focused Project Natick goes down where it's wetter.

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Microsoft prepares to sink Phase 2 of Project Natick off Scotland's coast

Microsoft/Screenshot by CNET

Microsoft dropped a data center into the waters off the coast of Scotland's Orkney Islands on Wednesday, marking the second phase of its self-sustaining Project Natick.

The experimental project is Microsoft's effort to see if it can process data in a greener, more affordable manner.

The first phase saw the company sink a prototype in the Pacific off the coast of California in August 2015. After three months, it was pulled up and brought back to Microsoft's Washington state headquarters for analysis.

The second phase will test the feasibility of deploying a larger model -- 12.2 meters in length and 2.8 meters wide -- that  contains 864 data center servers and 27.6 petabytes of disk storage. It's as powerful as several thousand high-end consumer PCs, with enough storage for about 5 million movies.

The units run solely on locally sourced renewable power, with an expected life cycle of about five years (which Microsoft hopes to push up to 20 years).


The data center is powered by renewable energy.

Microsoft/Screenshot by CNET

"Our vessel is powered by a combination of solar power, wind power, and offshore tidal and wave energy," says Ben Cutler, the project's manager.

The name Natick comes from a town in eastern Massachusetts.

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